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Old 09-19-2017, 05:44 PM   #1
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What is this switch with red light for?

Hi, there is a switch on the wall of my 1999 travel trailer. It is above the kitchen counter, next to an outlet. Unlike the other switches, it is black in color and has a red light that comes on when I flip it. I can't tell what it does, though.

I can't figure out how to post a photo here. Sorry.

This should be a link to the pic:
http://www.irv2.com/photopost/showfull.php?photo=33246

Thanks for your help!

Tom
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Old 09-19-2017, 05:46 PM   #2
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Hot water heater switch.

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Old 09-19-2017, 05:51 PM   #3
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Must be, since it says Atwood on it. Is your water heater gas & electric ?
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Old 09-19-2017, 05:51 PM   #4
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OK thanks. So, that begs the question why there is a Water Heater switch on the wall by the bathroom (this switch looks like a light switch and has no indicator lamp, but it's labeled Water Heater).
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Old 09-19-2017, 05:52 PM   #5
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I don't know if it's gas or electric. How can I figure it out? Thanks.
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Old 09-19-2017, 05:57 PM   #6
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If i am correct, water heaters are gas only, or gas and electric. Ours is a Suburdan, so not familiar with Atwoods . Sorry.
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Old 09-19-2017, 05:59 PM   #7
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So you can turn it on from more than 1 location.

As for gas vs electric, get the make/model/serial number off it & search Google. We had a 2001 (similar era as yours) TT & the switches inside were for electric only. There was a switch on the outside (inside the access panel) for gas.

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P.S. Since you have no manuals for anything, make a list of all your appliances with their make/model/serial numbers & start Google-ing. You'll be able to find nearly all manuals online. Many may be in our Files section as well - might check there too.
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Old 09-19-2017, 06:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NLOVNIT View Post
So you can turn it on from more than 1 location.

As for gas vs electric, get the make/model/serial number off it & search Google. We had a 2001 (similar era as yours) TT & the switches inside were for electric only. There was a switch on the outside (inside the access panel) for gas.

Lori-

P.S. Since you have no manuals for anything, make a list of all your appliances with their make/model/serial numbers & start Google-ing. You'll be able to find nearly all manuals online. Many may be in our Files section as well - might check there too.
Every RV I have ever seen has been the other way around. The gas switch was inside and the electric element switch was outside on the heater itself.
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Old 09-19-2017, 07:11 PM   #9
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Both my switches are on inside by the battery switches.
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Old 09-19-2017, 09:38 PM   #10
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As suggested by other look up the manual online for your particular application. I have a Suburban water heater which uses gas and/or AC electricity to heat the water but the Atwood will likely be the same.

You can tell if it's both gas and electric by opening the exterior access/vent panel and looking at it on the outside of the RV. If both, it will have a gas burner and wiring to the electric heating element. The electric probe looks much like the anode probe when viewing from the outside. There should be a on/off switch there as well to enable/disable the electric heating probe. If the water system has been drained for storage or winterization then this exterior switch should be turned off to prevent inadvertently burning up the probe if turned on while the water heater is empty. Additionally, there may be an electric on/off switch inside the RV for the convenience of not having to go outside to turn on the electric heating element. If your water heater is both gas and electric you can turn both on to heat the water more quickly. Typically, you only want to use the electric heating method when plugged into shore power or on generator power as it would use up the house batteries quickly. By design, you may not be able to use the house batteries for electric heating anyway.

My best guess is that the black switch with the red light is for heating the was via propane and the other switch is for electric. The red light comes on when the switch is first turned on to indicate the burner is not yet burning and then the light will go out after successful ignition. There is no indication of when the water heater has finished heating other than you dont hear the burner running.

Also, there is probably a reset switch/breaker under a waterproof covering on the external portion of the water heater which could require resetting if the electric probe has been overheated..
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Old 09-19-2017, 09:43 PM   #11
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As suggested by other look up the manual online for your particular application. I have a Suburban water heater which uses gas and/or AC electricity to heat the water but the Atwood will likely be the same.

You can tell if it's both gas and electric by opening the exterior access/vent panel and looking at it on the outside of the RV. If both, it will have a gas burner and wiring to the electric heating element. The electric probe looks much like the anode probe when viewing from the outside. There should be a on/off switch there as well to enable/disable the electric heating probe. If the water system has been drained for storage or winterization then this exterior switch should be turned off to prevent inadvertently burning up the probe if turned on while the water heater is empty. Additionally, there may be an electric on/off switch inside the RV for the convenience of not having to go outside to turn on the electric heating element. If your water heater is both gas and electric you can turn both on to heat the water more quickly. Typically, you only want to use the electric heating method when plugged into shore power or on generator power as it would use up the house batteries quickly. By design, you may not be able to use the house batteries for electric heating anyway.

My best guess is that the black switch with the red light is for heating the was via propane and the other switch is for electric. The red light comes on when the switch is first turned on to indicate the burner is not yet burning and then the light will go out after successful ignition. There is no indication of when the water heater has finished heating other than you dont hear the burner running.

Also, there is probably a reset switch/breaker under a waterproof covering on the external portion of the water heater which could require resetting if the electric probe has been overheated..
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Old 09-19-2017, 09:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tfryman View Post
Every RV I have ever seen has been the other way around. The gas switch was inside and the electric element switch was outside on the heater itself.
Yeah, that's probably right. Been over a dozen years since we had that TT so my memory of it isn't too great anymore.

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Old 09-19-2017, 09:51 PM   #13
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I have an Atwood that was propane only when we bought it. I added an aftermarket electric element and my own switch. I ended up installing the switch near the water heater which is about 10 feet from the wall the propane switch is on. Depending on who installs, the switch locations can be just about anywhere. In the OP's case, i'd bet money that the switch by the sink is the standard propane switch installed at the factory.

For the OP, hook up to city water or put water in your fresh water tank. Get water flowing through the plumbing, specifically the hot water faucets. You need to be sure there is water in the hot water heater itself. Make sure you have propane and that the valve at the propane tank itself is turned on. Turn on the switch with the red light and then go outside by the water heater access panel. If everything is working, you'll know in a minute or two if that switch turns on the gas valve because you'll hear its rumble at the panel.

If you don't hear anything, then there may be something wrong or that switch may be for an electric element. If you're plugged into electricity, leave it on for a half hour or so then check to see if there's any hot water.
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Old 09-19-2017, 10:15 PM   #14
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Suburban GAS/ELECTRIC water heaters have the Electric ON.OFF switch in the outside compartment...lower left corner.
SOME RV Mfgs will ADD an additional electric on.off switch inside rv wired in series with the OEM one
GAS ON.OFF switch will be inside with a Light ....Indicator/Fault


Atwood........2003 and previous year models
Electric ON.OFF switch will be on backside of water heater tank with set of t-stats ...same place where electric element is located
Gas ON.OFF switch is inside with a FAULT Light

2004 and later year models
Electric/Gas ON.OFF switches inside on a dual switch plate with FAULT Light



Your 1999 Year ...that Atwood water heater ON.OFF switch is for the GAS
Electric will be on backside of water heater IF your have a combo model.
Easy to tell........just look at backside and see IF you have a protective cover down low on tank. ON.OFF Switch on cover.

That 'other switch' labeled water heater and looks like a regular light switch.
Dollars to Donuts it was 'added' and is for the 120V AC power to electric element because the OEM one is on backside of water heater.
That switch would be wired in series.....both switches have to be ON for electric element to work
OR person that installed that switch did away with OEM cause it is on backside on water heater.

Either way....if for electric you will have electric element UNDER the protective cover on backside of water heater tank PLUS set of t-stats for the electric function.
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